Last updated: September 24, 2013
It may be the City of Brotherly Love but many of Philadelphia’s residents are no strangers to legal disputes and problems. If you are one of them, here is a helpful guide to some of the City’s courthouses, starting with the state and local courts. This guide will have you feeling like a courthouse champion. You can breeze through City Center while you hum Gonna Fly Now (just don’t hit anybody!).
Most of Philadelphia’s courthouses are state and local courts which combine to make up the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. All of Philadelphia’s First Judicial District courts are either Courts of Common Pleas or Municipal Courts. The courthouses themselves are assigned by subject matter, which may be the best way to figure out the right building to go to.
City Hall serves as the home for the Complex Litigation Center, Mandatory Settlement Conferences, Discovery Court, civil courtrooms, and various court offices. Follow the link for a complete directory of Trial Division-Civil phone numbers [PDF]. Many of the offices will be located in City Hall.
Many civil actions must first proceed in arbitration. Philadelphia County has rules requiring arbitration for all civil cases with $50,000 or less in controversy (with important but limited exceptions). Consult with your attorney to know whether you must enter arbitration.
This court features criminal proceedings for the Courts of Common Pleas and Municipal Court. The building is also home to the Mental Health Court which meets every Thursday in Courtroom 905. The Preliminary Arraignment Courtroom is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
This courthouse is on the corner of Broad and Arch Streets and is home to Adult Probation proceedings. If you need to make an Economic Sanction payment, you can send it by mail and address it to: “Adult Probation/Parole Department, Attn: Accounting Unit.” Click here for more answers to frequently asked Probation/Parole questions [PDF].
This court handles cases involving juvenile crime, neglect and abuse, truancy, and adoptions. Individuals may call the court for payment information and with other general questions.
This court handles issues with paternity, child support, child custody, divorce, and domestic violence. The Customer Service Center can answer many of your questions. The center is open M-F 8:00 A.M. – 4:45 P.M. A customer service representative may be able to answer general questions by phone at (215) 686-7466. Parents do not have to visit the courthouse to pay child support: you can pay child support online.
The Traffic Division is open 8:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M., Monday through Friday, so you may not have to take off of work to handle your traffic matters. The court suggests that you pay your traffic citation here. This court handles actual traffic citations and not parking and red light violations.
You can visit the Parking Violations Branch in person, or you can pay your parking and red light violations online. If you have questions, call (888) 591-3636. The office has customer service representatives to serve you in English or in Spanish.
Please keep in mind that there may be separate locations for other courts such as the Philadelphia Treatment Court, DUI Treatment Court and Veterans Court. Additionally, The City operates Municipal Court Criminal Division courtrooms in police districts throughout the City. So, if you are visiting, be aware that a criminal court proceeding may not be in a traditional courthouse.
Call (215) 686-7000 for general court information.
Parking can be found near the Byrne courthouse. This courthouse is in City Center East. The building holds both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Third Circuit maintains a webpage to help pro se litigants, individuals who do not have an attorney. The court’s Information for Pro Se Litigants [PDF] covers an overview of the appeals process, court rules, fees, legal definitions, answers to frequently asked questions, and many more useful items. If you have further questions, visit the court in person or online or call (215) 597-7704.
Parking can be found near the Nix Federal Building. The Federal Building is in City Center East and is home to several federal agencies and serves many non-court functions. The ADA accessible entrance is on the Market Street side of the building. The courtrooms and law library are located on the second floor.